Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Panchayat Raj elections: Internal bickering and group politics dodge the Congress in districts

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 20: All is not well with the Congress as internal bickering and group politics dodge the ruling party in districts over distribution of party tickets for MPTCs and ZPTCs in the crucial Panchayat Raj elections. Trouble and discontentment is so much in the Congress at the grass roots level that party leaders have come open fighting for supremacy in selection of candidates.
Sensing electoral trouble, Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy is burning the proverbial midnight oil to keep his flock together in view of realignment of political forces in the State, following the CPM's decision to sail with the main Opposition Telugu Desam. To make sure that the Congress win the maximum number of MPTCs and ZPTCs, Rajasekhar Reddy is holding pre-dawn teleconferences with district leaders, patching up their differences and bringing them onto one platform to defeat the Telugu Desam-CPM combine and the BJP.
Rajasekhar Reddy, though he has decided not to campaign, is showing more interest in panchayat elections. He did not show such a keen interest in municipal polls held last year. Congress sources point out that internal assessment by party leadership and intelligence reports have indicated an uphill task for the party. Though the reports have projected a majority of the seats for the ruling party, but warned of an electoral backlash if the internal bickering in the district Congress leadership was not curbed.
Rajasekhar Reddy is calling up partymen between 4.30 am and 6.30 am for a first hand assessment of the electoral situation in districts and the prospects of the Congress vis-à-vis the opposition parties. Rajasekhar Reddy seems to have gone a step further as his predecessor and Telugu Desam supremo N Chandrababu Naidu used to hold teleconferences with party leaders from districts only after 6.30 pm.
The trouble in the Congress began with the APCC announcing that it is leaving the decision on candidate selections and alliances to the local leadership. Even as the local leaders were getting ready for the task, the APCC imposed its candidates and alliances on the grass roots level creating confusion in the rank and file.
Meanwhile, the APCC sent a letter to AICC general secretary Ahmed Patel stating that 73 ZPTC seats have been allotted to the TRS and 42 ZPTC seats to the CPI. APCC chief K Keshav Rao said the alliance talks with the TRS and the CPI had been successfully completed.

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